Longtime1 readers of SpecGram will recall this journal’s most recent phœnexian rebirth in 2004, which was followed a few months and two issues later by the Brood X Magicicada Super Issue, a “celebratory” observance of the invasion of our D.C. offices by uncontrolled throngs of Brood X Magicicada septendecim. As any competent entomologist (and, really, any half-
They fill the air with their ceaseless, pointless droning, flitting and fluttering gracelessly and without apparent purpose from place to place, brainlessly bumping into and bouncing off of their biological betters, collectively barely sensate enough to seek some semblance of orgiastic oblivion before their inevitable demise. I’m speaking, of course, of the current crop of midsummer interns... though looking back at my words I see that an uncareful reader3 might mistake my musings for Magicicada maligning
I don’t want to devolve into yelling at the interns for being on my lawn,4 but kids these days... what can I say? They barely know what a book is. They couldn’t make a philological argument to save their own lives.5 They can’t differentiate semantics and pragmatics, nor semiotics and semiology, nor Prof. Noarn Chornsky and Prof. Noam Chomsky. Even spoon-feeding them Phlogiston’s Cartoon Theories of Linguistics leaves them no less dim than before. They prattle on about computational “linguistics”, computer “science”, statistical “models”, artificial “intelligence”, machine “learning”, and “neural” networks
Despite a lack of any evidence of any actual humanity among them, I have tried to connect to them on a human level. But, yet again, they let me down. Nary a one of them has seen Vowel Space, The Trill Hunter, Conan the Librarian, Green Linguarian,10 John Stuart Mill and the Temple of Doom, The Uvular Suspects, E.T. the Extrametrical, or any other of the classiest of the classics.
Nonetheless, as every summer must eventually come to an end, I remind myself, “This too shall pass.” Eventually, nothing will be left but the hollowed out husks and other detritus of their revolting molting, the echos of their shrill mating calls having faded to a peevish quietude. I’m speaking, of course, of the current crop of perennial old fogeys emeritus,11 who waste so much time and energy yelling ineffectually at the current crop of midsummer interns... though looking back at my words I see that an uncareful reader12 might mistake my musings for Magicicada maligning
Perhaps I have been too harsh on both the new interns and the old fogeys.13 We have all been feeling broodier since the last Brood X issue; maybe it’s time to lighten up a bit and enjoy the season.
O aestās !
PS: Those pesky tribes of vermin are now gone from my presence, each for their respective season,14 though not before delaying this issue so much that we had to recast it as the Mid-
1 Relatively speaking, of course. By the helter-
SpecGram has an internal system of ranks for the longevity of subscriptions, with those of the greatest antiquity having been bequeathed down through the generations. The barest outline of the system of ranks and sub-
2 Cicadas returning every seventeen years makes their visits a smidge more than three times as frequent as those of the Grammar Entelechy. By coincidence, cicadas are also slightly more than three times as attractive as the representatives of the Grammar Entelechy, and easily three times as welcome to visit.
Less coincidentally, our editorial strategy for dealing with the Grammar Entelechy is similar to the cicada’s reproductive strategy for dealing with their antagonists: predator satiation. Cicadas inundate their attackers with more prey than they can eat; SpecGram overwhelms the Grammar Entelechy with more interns than it can rip souls from.
3 Worried you might be an uncareful reader? You probably are, but if you checked the footnotes there’s at least some hope for you.
4 That, of course, is a lie. I would love to do that, especially while turning on the sprinklers and releasing the hounds.
5 This is arguably not even hyperbole. Though they scatter like vermin6 when I come into their holding pen each morning, I can always corner a few of them. I ask them to make a simple philological argument, and those that fail to do so
6 As vermin will.
7 The engineering interns have suggested using a trebuchet for literal ejection, but the legal interns have made a convincing argument that doing so is unlawful. The philosophy interns suggested that it was also immoral, at which point the legal interns implied that using the trebuchet on philosophy interns might be a legal grey area.
8 i.e., philology, as previously discussed.
9 The worst use actual electronic computers to do their work, but even those who require less powerful computational aids
10 Admittedly Green Linguarian is not the greatest cinematolingual achievement of a generation or anything. I even gave it a fairly poor review
11 That is, the ones whose keys to the executive washroom we are unable to reclaim, whether for contractual or pure practical reasons
12 See footnote 3, if you haven’t already.
13 Actually, probably not
14 Seventeen years underground for the cicadas, the rest of the summer in the work pits for the interns, the rest of the afternoon in the Napatorium Emeritus for the old fogeys.
15 The Editorial We, of course. I’ll be lounging along the placid shores of the [REDACTED] Riviera with a favored subset of the Editorial Board, while the Lesser Editors and interns work double shifts. C’est la vie.
16 The EU legal interns inform me that, due to the failure of the Speculeave Grammaretreat initiative (a.k.a. SpexitGramexit), I have to inform you that it is only a “European August Vacation” if you are primarily employed in one of the August-